Kiwi culture review leads to renewed calls for levy

Lynn Grieveson Financial institutions / Big five & fintech

The review of the culture and conduct of New Zealand banks released yesterday identified “significant weaknesses” in the banks – which the regulators said were “either reactive at best or complacent at worst” -  but no systemic culture issues.

But the report, combined with the reporting of record profits by the Australian-owned banks, has prompted renewed impetus for work on a levy on the banks, similar to that now imposed on major banks across the Tasman.

The New Zealand First caucus has taken its proposals to Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said he wanted the levy to be at least NZ$100 million a year across all the banks in New Zealand.

Jones told reporters a levy could be used to support the provision of banking services in the regions.

“Banks in New Zealand occupy a position of extravagant privilege and maybe the time has come that they should pay the price for that privilege,” Jones said.

“We have a banking sector that is cartelised, and the real question is: ‘how does a small country like New Zealand develop greater competitiveness?’ – and the banks are at the top of the list.”